Fryston Warriors denied story ending as Featherstone Lions pull off thrilling fightback
In the dramatic final 10 minutes, the Lions crossed for three tries that left them two points short, then a Liam Kay penalty midway sent the game into overtime with the game’s final kick. .
The momentum was with Featherstone in overtime and a drop-goal from Kay and a Harley Ax dummy and dart on the line gave Featherstone a five-point lead at the end of added time.
It was a tough comeback for a spirited Fryston side who, for 70 minutes, led rightfully, and by some margin. For the neutral, it was an exciting semi-final showcasing the best in amateur rugby league in front of a huge crowd.
Fryston must have regretted missing out on a chance to make history, wasting an 18-point lead to miss what would have been an all-Fryston final as their ‘A’ team had already won – two teams from the same club have never done that.
It was Fryston’s best display for several weeks, but their downfall was due to poor discipline, poor defending and tactical options that highlight the youth and inexperience within the side.
There was no hint of a thrilling final in the early stages as a game from Fryston’s side thwarted the Lions’ best attacking efforts with determined tackles.
Sam Wilkinson-Pycock snuck in for an unconverted try to give the Lions a four-point lead, but the rest of the first half was up to the home side.
Brad Moules, Harvey Kear, Connor Jordan and Lee Land did the hard work down the middle which created the openings on the flanks which Brandon Ward duly agreed to score. Jae Priest added the goal, giving Fryston a slim half-time lead.
Great supporting play and an offload dug more holes in the Lions line and midway through the second half the home visitors were down and nearly knocked out at 22-4.
From a quick game, the ball Connor Jordan showed his awareness as he cut through a gap in the Lions defense to score.
As much as Featherstone tried to get back into the game, their forwards were blunted by the Warriors stubborn defense which gave their backs no chance to show their skills.
Fryston capitalized on every mistake made and extended his lead after a break from Moules and quick play, the ball allowed Kieran Purdy to score. The priest added the conversion.
The hosts were in full swing now and Featherstone only came out of his own half with deep kicks. Fryston again exploited a defensive weakness on the flanks as they moved to the blindside, giving George Thrower an easy run to score under the posts. Priest added the conversion to give the Warriors an 18-point lead.
Featherstone had compounded their woes on the scoreboard with second-half indiscipline which led to two successive yellow cards and a red card for the coach who was unceremoniously sent back to the dressing room.
But they managed their rebirth from the dead as Kieran Redfearn crossed into the corner and young winger Prash Veerasamy scored two tries in straight sets of six.
Two of Kay’s three sideline conversions gave the Lions a glimmer of hope, but with less than a minute to go, the late flurry of goals seemed like little more than consolation.
However, in the final game of regulation time, Fryston suffered the referee’s whistle and Kay tied the scores at 22 apiece, followed by the full-time whistle.
Fryston played the majority of overtime with just 12 men and Featherstone took advantage as they worked the ball upfield to set up a drop goal for Kay, which he coldly slid off.
Fryston’s game plan had gone out the window and they never came close to Featherstone’s posts to attempt a drop-goal.
Featherstone rubbed salt into the wounds as Ax dug in the dummy half to score the game’s final points.
Fryston had plenty of heroes that day though, with Brad Moules, Harvey Kear, Connor Jordan, Lee Land and Lewis Birdsall all having outstanding matches.